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ILA 2024: German Grille ‘rescue drone' debuted in Berlin

The Grille casevac UAV was showcased for the first time at ILA 2024, where it was displayed in German Army colours. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The Bundeswehr has debuted at the ILA Berlin Air Show 2024 the Avilus Grille (the German word for the cricket insect) ‘rescue drone' that it is evaluating for future operational use.

Displayed at the event running from 5 to 9 June, the Grille casualty evacuation (casevac) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is the second such prototype developed by German firm Avilus, and bears the serial 9X+02 (9 is the number the Bundeswehr assigns to UAVs, X means eXperimental, and 02 signifies the second prototype after the company's earlier DRONEVAC platform). It is named in the German Army tradition, which sees all its vehicles given the moniker of an animal.

“The German Army has been evaluating the Grille since 2021 as part of its Drone Innovation Hub,” the chief operating officer of Avilus, Niclas Bähr, told Janes on 6 June. “Army test unit [Wehrtechnische Dienststelle] WTD 61 has conducted the trials, which so far have involved only dummy passengers.”

The Grille carries the medical equipment needed to sustain the casualty through to its next step on the medical care chain, with vital signs monitored and relayed to the ground control station throughout the flight. A video link enables offboard psychological calming for the patient during transit also. The internal cabin can be quickly swapped out for another fresh unit for speedy decontamination and cleaning between casevac missions.

“Consisting of an uncrewed aerial vehicle, a truck-integrated control room, a trailer for logistics and service, as well as a digital backbone, the [rescue UAV] system acts like a booster to the existing evacuation chain,” Avilus said of the Grille on its company website.

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